The unfamiliar is often associated with a feeling of discomfort and and/or awkwardness. A sense of vulnerability can come from fleeing the safety of the known and venturing into an uncharted conversation with a stranger. Most people are fairly certain when it comes to what or who they “know”, but applying a definition or criteria for what classifies known from unknown is troublesome task. I recently engaged in a conversation with woman whom I did not know while walking my dog. The interesting dynamic of this was that she knew my dog but not me. This was because my mom usually walks him by her house and I normally do not. She introduced my to her cat, Panther, and I noticed that both animals got along quite well. We chatted briefly about our pets and how well they seemed to get along, but we didn’t stray far from the usual, menial conversation. I wished her a good day and simply continued on my way. This had me thinking back on James Hamlin’s article “How to Talk to Strangers”. I thought about Goffman’s idea of civil inattention and how this lady couldn’t be a complete stranger, even though to me, she was unknown. She knew me in relation to my dog and failed to abide by Goffman’s observations where strangers acknowledge one another through eye contact and then remain inattentive. The lady, whose name I still don’t know, was not a stranger. She sparked dialogue with me through a known fact about my life which brings me back to my first predicament about defining known and unknown. The answer to if the nature of this conversation defines her as a stranger to me or as someone more familiar than that remains unknown, and unknown isn’t always bad.